Story Name: Josie's World
From: Lori Wakefield
My Jack Russell Story:
This is true story about a six month old JRT named Josie. Setting: Pacific Northwest, circa winter '96/'97.
Last night I went out to the barn to get my horse ready to ride. Josie had been missing for an hour by that time, according to my husband, Jim. This is nothing new; she can spend hours scampering through the acres of blackberry tangles on our property.
As I walk to the barn, I hear Josie howling. Again, nothing new, because she gets really frustrated when the bird she's stalking flies away. Just the same, I go check. I follow the howling, calling her name, but when I get close, she gets quiet. Ok, she doesn't want to be caught. Typical.
I catch my horse and start cleaning her up when I hear Josie crying. Enough is enough, so I turn the mare loose again, get a flashlight and start looking. There's a splash of white over near a pile of old tires, but it's not moving, so I assume it's another souvenir from the previous owners. I move a few feet left and shine the flashlight through the blackberries again, and I see a puppy eye, not moving. A number of unladylike phrases cross my mind.
I can't get to her through the tangle, but I can't bring myself to leave her to get the clippers, so I just start ripping vines with my hands, and crawling over to her on my stomach. When I get to her, I see she has her head through one of the tire rims. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, right smack through the middle of thirty pounds of rubber and steel.
"I'll be out in about five minutes", Jim had said when I left the house. I figure maybe he's on his way, so I start yelling for him. Five minutes of this; no answer. Must have gone back to his computer game, which means I'll be lucky if I see him before breakfast.
I check out the immediate vicinity and find that I'm only about 10 feet from the open area in back of the barn. I hook the flashlight over a branch near Josie (in case the dark scares her) and start ripping vines again. No problem - I'll just clear an opening with my bare hands and carry her and the tire out all by myself!
Fortunately, Jim comes looking for me before I get to the real hard part. I send him back to the barn for clippers and bolt cutters, and when he gets back, I explain the situation to him. He laughs, of course. He sobers up, though, when I threaten his life. He tosses the bolt cutters in to me, and starts clearing a path through the blackberry vines.
The bolt cutters have zero effect on the steel rim. I can't get a real good angle on the hole, anyway, because of course Josie's head is in the way. If firemen rescue cats out of trees, and they rescue people out of mangled steel cars, I wonder if would they come out with the jaws of life and cut my puppy out of a tire rim?
So we get the path made, wide enough for Josie and the tire to go through sideways, and high enough for us to walk in a crouch. Since the tire weighs forty pounds, and since I have to keep Josie perpendicular to the tire so as not to snap her little neck, and since we've got our backs in positions backs shouldn't be in, Jim can only move the tire a few inches at a time.
We make our way out into the open, six inches at a time, and finally we're clear. Now we have about twelve feet of eight inch deep mud to cross before we get to firm footing. We pick up the load and take slow, sideways steps, balancing the dog and the tire between us. I hear Jim praying.
Finally we make it to dry ground. I get the farm cart out of the barn and throw a saddle blanket in it so Josie can stand without slipping on the Rubbermaid surface of the cart. We wedge the tire into a corner of the cart, and wheel it into the barn and under some light.
A hacksaw blade doesn't scratch the rim. Vaseline slathered all over Josie's neck and ears doesn't let her slip out. The bolt cutters still don't work. It's time to call for help.
Jim calls the vet's emergency number. The vet's David (a buddy of Jim's) returns the page, and Jim explains the situation. David giggles - some bedside manner. Bring her into the clinic, he says.
We wheel the farm cart to the front of the house, and discover it doesn't fit in the station wagon with the tire sticking out of it. Josie whimpers. Hurry.
The truck is close by. Jim moves the station wagon out of the way and backs the truck up to the farm cart, and we lift the cart, the dog, the saddle blanket, and the fifty pound tire into the truck. I climb in next to her.
As we pull into the clinic's parking lot, David and Dr. Donna come out to meet us. David can barely contain himself. I glare at him. He comments about the convenience of having the fire department and the jaws of life right across the street.
As we wheel the farm cart into the surgery, I fight down images of Dr. Donna amputating Josie's ears to get her out. I hover while Dr. Donna checks out the situation, pushing and poking at the opening in the rim. Jim turns white and leaves the room. I move to speak comfortingly to him as he passes, and when I turn back to watch, Dr. Donna places Josie in my arms. She's out!
"Just like a difficult birthing, " she explains to me on the way out. "You just tilt the shoulders and work them out one at a time. I just did that with her ears." David pats my arm reassuringly, and is obviously very proud of his wife's talents. And so he should be. We make plans for steak dinners on Saturday (Jim's treat!), and wheel the cart and tire, sans dog, to the truck.
As we drive home, we're so relieved that it's over we don't even yell at Josie for digging a discarded mocha cup out of the trash. "Why did this have to happen to us?" Jim demanded; reaction has started to set in.
"Because this is Josie's World," I remind him.
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